“It was built as hydro-graphic launch, but ended up carrying Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin up the Thames.”
Excitingly, June 9th is Marina Day. To celebrate, we thought we’d get our very own Marina General Manager, Paul Tetlow, to share some little-known stories about the Docks.
It’s fishier than you’d think
“Not many people know there are Pike, Bream and Carp here, some two or three feet long! You’ll find them near the leaves and vegetation around Marble Quay on a sunny day. There’s lots of food there, and no predators. So the fish often bask just under the surface.
“They’ve probably been here a while. Our Senior Dock Master, Ron (who’s been here a fair old while himself) says we used to issue fishing permits. Apparently people would come down to the docks for an afternoon and not only fish but try to take their catch home. We even held fishing competitions.”
Sadly, we get three bags full
“Each day, one of the team takes a pool net around the Docks to catch all the rubbish. There’s quite a bit – each sweep usually amounts to three dustbin bags; much of it from the Thames.”
It’s a multi-national address
“We had around 900 visiting boats in the Docks last year. About half were from the UK, and half from the continent – many of them Dutch. Occasionally we get a boat from further afield: I once saw one flying a South Korean flag. It’s very seasonal too. We had twice as many visitors in May as January to April put together.”
The Queen’s Barge isn’t our only celebrity boat
“The Gloriana’s certainly the most famous boat in the Docks, but it’s not the only one with an interesting history. The MV Havengore is here as well. It was built as hydrographic launch, but is also know for carrying Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin up the Thames. Now it’s used for all kinds of events.”
There are historic techniques
“One of the bits of the job I love most is watching the Marina team helping the Thames barges. They use ropes and bollards on the quayside we call them knuckles – to manoeuvre these 25 metre boats around the docks and into the river. They’re keeping centuries-old techniques alive, really. And it’s great seeing the public take an interest in their work.”
The ducks are pretty fussy about their property
“We’ve built some pretty stunning floating duck houses around the marina. They’ve been really popular with the wildlife on the whole, but it’s amazing how discerning some of the birds are – some pass them up and end up nesting on the back of boats!”
We’ll be celebrating Marina Day with and ‘open house’ on both Friday 8th June & Saturday 9th June. Between 1000 -1600 on Friday and 1100-1600 on Saturday, members of the public are welcome to visit the Event Pontoon in the Central Basin of the marina to meet the marina team, to go on board a Police Patrol Boat, to meet with the RNLI and to go onboard the Thames Sailing Barge, Lady Daphne